SoFi, a new robotic fish developed by MIT is able to go where no robotic fish before it has gone. The soft robot fish even comes equipped with a camera (it has a fish-eye lens…obviously) so it can capture footage of the fish it swims with.

“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” CSAIL Ph.D. candidate Robert Katzschmann said.

The fish itself can be controlled with a waterproof remote control through ultrasonic signals.

“A robot like this can help explore the reef more closely than current robots, both because it can get closer more safely for the reef and because it can be better accepted by the marine species,” said Cecilia Laschi, a professor of biorobotics at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

The robot fish is able to swim by water being pumped into chambers that cause its tail to bend and flex as it’s propelled forward. It even has controllable fins and a buoyancy chamber that helps control its depth.

“We view SoFi as a first step toward developing almost an underwater observatory of sorts,” says Daniela Rus, CSAIL director. “It has the potential to be a new type of tool for ocean exploration and to open up new avenues for uncovering the mysteries of marine life.”

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